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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Opportunity and Challenge. A 21st Century Agenda for the National Science Foundation

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

Citizens in all fields need to understand how science and technology affect policy, business, and personal decisions. The shortage of trained scientists and engineers is a small indicator of a much larger problem: insufficient knowledge and understanding about science and technology across our population. The educational system must respond dynamically to prepare our population for the complex, evolving, global challenges of the 21st century. Advances in technology are poised to meet these educational demands. Cyberlearning offers new learning and educational approaches and the possibility of redistributing learning experiences over time and space, beyond the classroom and throughout a lifetime. We believe that cyberlearning has reached a turning point where learning payoffs can be accelerated. We also believe that this moment could be fleeting because, without deliberate efforts to coordinate cyberlearning approaches, we will miss the opportunity to provide effective support for the convergence of learning and technology. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is in a position to stimulate research and development that can enable this process. Cyberlearning has tremendous potential right now because we have powerful new technologies, increased understanding of learning and instruction, and widespread demand for solutions to educational problems. In the last decade, the design of technologies and our understanding of how people learn have evolved together, while new approaches to research and design make the development and testing of technologies more responsive to real-world requirements and learning environments. NSF has played a key role in these advances, funding interdisciplinary programs specifically to support research and activities in the area of cyberlearning. NSF can continue to lead this revolution by leveraging its investments in the productive intersections between technology and the learning sciences.

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